Sunset Stack Overflow / Hebrew

Sunset Stack Overflow / Hebrew

Recently, a post titled The Fall of Stack Overflow (“The Fall of Stack Overflow”), which details the 35-50% drop in traffic to this site over the past year and a half.

The most obvious reason for this is AI, because ChatGPT is extremely useful as a coding assistant. However, my dear developer, this is not entirely true.

If you look closely, you can find that the biggest drop happened around April 2022, even though ChatGPT came out seven months later, in November. Although we see a drop every summer (school and university holidays) and winter (holiday weekends), this drop in April 2022 continues and only increases.

Fall that started in April 2022.

Here I am watching unchanged fall, and that means… AI has replaced developers forever.

Oh no, just kidding, the truth is that the foundation for this downfall has been years in the making, and it’s partly caused by Stack Overflow itself.

There are four reasons for Stack Overflow’s slow demise.

1. Changes in Google Analytics

The first reason affected the fastest. Actually, Stack Overflow did not lose 50% of its traffic, the real values ​​are closer to 35%. In May 2022, Google Analytics changed the way it stores cookies due to privacy laws, resulting in a reported 15% loss of traffic. The link above has details.

2. Stack Overflow is hostile to its users

For a place where questions are answered, Stack Overflow is surprisingly one of the most toxic and hostile forums on the internet, but in a passive-aggressive way. We’ve seen thousands of complaints on Stack Overflow over a dozen years, so the hostility and decline of Stack Overflow is nothing new.

There are hundreds of posts on Reddit about the hostility of Stack Overflow. “It is convenient to search for answers, but when I asked a very niche question, I was replaced; tried to answer the question whether I had been replaced. I can’t do anything.”

People have been talking about the “decline of Stack Overflow” for almost a decade now.

But it seems that everything finally came to a logical conclusion.

“Why StackOverflow sucks.” This was written 14 YEARS AGO! In 2009! The linked site no longer exists.

Often times when you try to ask a question on Stack Overflow, it will be flagged as a duplicate with a link to the exact same question not similar. Or a similar question may turn out to be the one to which yes never and did not answer.

In other cases, perfectly acceptable questions are minus.

If you try to answer, you will be minus.

If you’re trying to post a comment… wait can not! You don’t have enough karma.

For a community governed by imaginary internet glasses, there is an incredible amount of disrespect on the forums, not only through upvotes, but also in comments where people passive-aggressively call you dumb.

This often happens.

“Question: Lambda field reference in Java8”

“I’d like to figure out how to get a lambda reference on a field. I don’t want to use the method because my field is public final. I suspect that this is impossible, but I did not find a clear statement anywhere.”

“Why use public fields at all?”

“I like public final fields in classes that are used as data structures. They do not implement interfaces and do not have deep hierarchies”

“You complicate (as your question suggests) life for yourself (and your colleagues). This violates the rules of object-orientation (encapsulation), does not correspond to standard practices, makes the code inconsistent, does not allow it to be used by all standard frameworks and libraries that expect compliance with standard Java Beans conventions. If I were you, I wouldn’t do that. If generating getters bothers you, then use a good IDE or let Lombok generate them for you.

Although a 2018 study by Stack Overflow found that only 7% of comments on Stack Overflow are unkindin fact, it’s enough to scare a developer away from contributing.

A prevalence of 5% to 10% can have a large impact on a community. Let’s do some rough calculations. If the average developer visits Stack Overflow once or twice a week to solve a problem, there is an answer under the question he finds, and each post (question and answer) has two comments (remember that comments are more visible to visitors than answers). then according to the conservative For this, a developer visiting Stack Overflow will see 1-3 condescending, unfriendly comments every month of work as a coder. Does one hostile comment a month turn anyone off? Obviously not, because Stack Overflow is still useful to many. But he will convince some that it is not worth helping here, and next month’s comment will convince them even more, and so on. And we take into account only readers of such comments; those to whom these comments are addressed will, of course, be much more affected.

Source

Because of this, most programmers use the site in read-only mode. Instead, they go to Reddit, where the programming community is much friendlier.

And now you can even go to ChatGPT, which is sure to give you a wrong answer that looks so right that you’ll spend another seven hours debugging your broken code.

3. Google search now ranks Stack Overflow lower.

The results of Stack Overflow have fallen in Google as well, both in a literal numerical expression (they are now not always the first result), but also in the sense of a “digital object” (sometimes not even visible on the screen).

Shall we conduct a small experiment? Let’s take three of the most popular programming questions and put them to Google in an incognito window.

Note: Obviously, results may vary widely. Google Personalized Search may return Stack Overflow first or less frequently, depending on your actions.

Test 1/3: How to center a div?

Here, Stack Overflow is in third place, just below the middle of the page on my standard 27-inch monitor.

Stack Overflow is in third place.

Quiz 2/3: What does yield do in Python?

This is the fifth most popular question on Stack Overflow.

Here, Stack Overflow ranks fourth, but I don’t even need to click on the link because the featured snippet above answers my question.

If I didn’t have a vertical monitor, I would have to scroll.

Test 3/3: How to undo local git commits?

This is the second most popular question on Stack Overflow.

Here’s the problem:

Google has featured snippet elements that allow you to answer some of the most popular questions without even having to click.

In other situations, Stack Overflow is not even in the top two or even the top five links on the page.

Added to this are featured snippets, related questions, and YouTube videos, which usually push Stack Overflow further down the screen.

Thanks to the featured snippet and related questions, SO has dropped below half a screen.

Data shows that the first result on Google receives 27.6% of all clicks, while the top three results receive almost 55% of all clicks.

If you’re not in the top three results… traffic drops exponentially.

4. AI also affects

And, finally, the obvious answer is II. ChatGPT does a really good job with coding. Now I don’t even use it for anything else.

Given the sharp fall since November 30, 2022, II also accelerated the fall of SO.

ChatGPT was released on November 30, 2022.

Is it fair? Not really. Stack Overflow gives all their data away for free, maintains the site for a decade and a half, and then OpenAI comes along and scrapes it and trains their models on it. No matter how you feel about the users and moderators of Stack Overflow, maintaining such a site is not cheap.

This could become a problem in the future. The fewer questions and answers that appear online, the less data there is to train AI. And how can AI improve if it reduces human data? So if everyone goes to ChatGPT for help debugging their confusing problem with React 18 or C++21, then when C++72 or React 37 comes out, we might have small difficulty

And the situation for data scrapers of the future will also be difficult. Companies like Reddit and Twitter (X?) are adapting to AI data scrapers by charging for their APIs.

But it is logical that programmers prefer AI site Stack Overflow.

II fast — you don’t have to wait for your question to be answered.

II friendly — you don’t have to wait for your question to be marked as a duplicate.

II works with you politely — you won’t be called dumb for your question or posting the following comments.

“This question has already been answered”
“Did you try Googling first?”
“Repeat the question”
“Read the documentation”

ChatGPT: “Here’s the answer”

But remember, very often II is wrong. However, AI is only a tool, not a replacement for abilities.

Future

Stack Overflow’s decline may continue, especially given Google Search Labs’ beta. Now we don’t need to call or even read at all. Just send a search query and copy.

Stack Overflow is actually right below this answer, but… one less click plus a handy copy button? As much as I wish for SO survival…it’s really, really cool.

In response to claims of decline. Stack Overflow released OverflowAI.

And I tried it, here is the first impression:

“My HTTP GET request works in Postman but not in Django. I keep getting this error message. What’s going on?”

OverflowAI: “But how do you not know this? Are you stupid? I will not answer, this question has already been answered. Good luck (you’ll need it).”

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